Fada "Bullet" Radios
Throughout the whole of the radio collecting world, the name "FADA" excites any serious collector's palate and especially for their range of catalin products, and particulary those sets popularised as "Fada Bullets", or less frequently, "Fada Streamliners". Before covering these wonderful looking radios, let's examine the company's history.
FADA was founded as F.A.D Andrea in New York, USA, by Frank Angelo D'Andrea in 1920. The company initially produced crystal set receivers, and expanded (like so many others of the day), into producing electrical receivers. In 1932, the company crashed with the depression caused primarily through over productivity and financial problems (too much stock and not enough buyers!). A fate shared by so many others at that time. Having gone into receivership, the business and company name were sold and re-launched as Fada Radio and Electrical Corp, although Frank Andrea went on to form his own separate company, Andrea Radio Corporation and ran this business until his death in the mid 1960's.
It is important not to confuse both companies with FADA catalins. These were produced by the former re-formed company. Catalin radio cabinets and parts were hand produced by craftsmen using an early liquid resin that was poured into moulds and then placed in low heated ovens to dry over a few days. Once 'cured' the sets were released from the moulds, and after trimming were assembled into the finished product. Due to the rather haphazard nature of the production process, many cases were broken by heat, or mishandling during the mould release stage.
In many ways this form of manufacture was not unlike that of ceramic production. Catalin was not unique to FADA, as many other radio companies of the day used this plastic. As a fragile material, many sets have failed to survive into the 21st century as complete items, chips and stress cracks being the most common form of damage. However, the sheer range of colour and shade compensates for it's shortcomings, and damaged sets are still worth a lot of money to an eager collector.
FADA's catalin heydays were between the late 1930's through to 1945. The first "bullet" set into production was the model 115, which was released in 1940. This set formed part of many other catalin sets produced at this time, and it was not until the end of World War II that the second, (and last) the model 1000 was released in late 1945. No two sets of either marque were entirely identical, and customers could even order sets to their own colour specification.
These rareties are even more valuable than the standard company colour versions. It is currently difficult to exact current prices on all sets, as catalin formed radios are steaming ahead in value, probably due to their popularity with the world collector's on the Ebay Auction site. Therefore all printed valuations in collector's guide books are considerably underpriced. Unless there becomes a world-wide recession, it would be prudent to buy now rather than later!